So Glenn Beck has decided to institutionalize his persistent campaign of historical revisionism. That’s right! For “as low as $6.26/per month” you too can have access to Beck & co.’s wealth of misinformation.
Here’s Beck’s pitch for Beck University:
School may be out for the summer, but for Glenn Beck class is just starting.
This July, while others are relaxing poolside, head back to the classroom – from the comfort of your own home…
Offered exclusively to Extreme subscribers, Beck University is a unique academic experience bringing together experts in the fields of religion, American history and economics. Through captivating lectures and interactive online discussions, these experts will explore the concepts of Faith, Hope and Charity and show you how they influence America’s past, her present and most importantly her future.
The obligatory flood of criticism of Beck’s latest product has been two fold. The first line pertains to the propagandist’s insatiable desire to separate his adoring followers from their money. As Steve Benen reminded his readers July 6:
This from a deranged media personality who reportedly takes in about $18 million a year…
The second and more damning criticism revolves around Beck U.’s curriculum; particularly, as it pertains to its pseudo-historical content and those tasked to teach it.
So who is the academic behemoth charged with enlightening Beck’s faithful? Beck has selected David Barton: an oft discredited, religiously motivated Republican activist known for his repeated attempts to rewrite American history with halos atop the Founders’ heads.
Among the more vocal critics of Beck and Barton is journalist and author Will Bunch. In his July 1 post, Bunch offers some informative snark regarding “Beck’s pseudo-cyber-campus,” but his Feb. 9 post is much more useful for examining Beck’s intentions (and hypocrisy) and Barton’s bunk:
…Beck’s blueprint for America is deeply rooted in a Christian fundamentalist misinterpretation of American history, one that is built upon made-up quotes and bogus historical facts. What’s more, while Beck seeks to portray himself as a libertarian — remember, classic libertarianism includes abiding respect for the wall between church and state — his kick-off speaker at his first “American Revival” is a leading architect of the right-wing same-old, same-old, the close alliance between the Republican Party and Christian activists that helped bring us George W. Bush — and our current mess. That speaker is Texas GOP activist and school-textbook corrupter David Barton.
Barton is the founder of a Texas-based group called the WallBuilders, a foundation devoted to proving that the roots of the United States and its Constitution are not based on the separation of church of state … but as country built upon a bedrock of Christianity. That is also the premise of a widely circulated book that Barton published in the 1990s called “The Myth of Separation” — a book that was eventually re-written and issued under a different name because it was larded with bad information, some of which nevertheless became gospel on conservative talk radio…
For much, much more regarding Barton’s crimes against history be sure to check out the extensive works ofTalk to Action blogger (and also at The Huffington Post) Chris Rodda, Senior Researcher for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and the author of Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History. Rodda’s “No, Mr. Beck…” series is instructive for understanding Barton’s tactics; like misrepresenting the work of actual academics in order to suggest that the Constitution was based on the Book of Deuteronomy, or cropping a quote from John Adams in order to claim that the second American President thought “Governments must be administered by the holy ghost.” (Sigh…)
But Barton is simply a compliment to Beck’s propagandistic writings and rants. Frankly, Beck’s own revisionist efforts seem sufficiently wicked. Why, then, does Beck bother with a discredited Christian nationalist like Barton?
Let me know what you think in the comments below, but I suspect Barton’s usefulness to Beck is to provide an academic veneer for his political evangelism. That Barton’s writings don’t reflect the realities of the American past is completely lost on Beck’s already indoctrinated, inexplicably large audience.
While Beck University isn’t likely to generate any new subscribers to its namesake’s warped worldview, it would be irresponsible to ignore him (as tempting as that might be). As Will Bunch explained Feb. 9:
…his “100-year plan” for the nation would set us back more than 234 years, before the time when brave men imagined a nation where people would be free to worship all religions, or no religion. The Beck-Barton plan is a dangerous idea — but given what we’ve learned about Beck’s influence over the last year, it is also something that is too dangerous to ignore.
Related on Care2:
… and elsewhere:
Chris Rodda, “Glenn Beck’s new BFF — David Barton,” The Huffington Post, 11 February 2010.
Media Matters, “Beck responds to MMFA’s Will Bunch, defends making money off Beck U,” 6 July 2010 – Listen to Beck mount his defense for the profits while neglecting to mention Bunch’s criticism of the curriculum.
Glenn Beck image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr